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Healthy and mature vegetation around critical areas provides important wildlife habitat and plays a natural and critical role in managing stormwater runoff. Some of the benefits that NGPAs/CAPAs provide include:
Your NGPA/CAPA is any land that has a stream, lake, wetland and/or a critical area buffer within it. Most NGPA/CAPA’s have signs along their perimeter. If you suspect you have an NGPA/CAPA in your neighborhood or on your property, but there are no signs, there are several documents where your NGPA/CAPA information is recorded. These documents include a development's plat map, a parcel's Critical Area Site Plan (CASP) or Official Site Plan. These documents can be searched for on the Snohomish County Auditor website. A County Watershed Steward can assist in looking up and reviewing any designated NGPA/CAPA within your plat or property.
NGPA/CAPA’s typically represent a small fraction of our original natural environment and can be completely surrounded by development. Critical areas, like streams and wetlands, were once part of a vast network of natural forests and freshwater systems that covered Snohomish County. Though now a fragment of historic forests, your NGPA/CAPA can still provide highly productive and healthy habitats. Here are a few indicators of a healthy NGPA/CAPA:
Development, deforestation and other land uses have fragmented critical areas. Changes over time can result in an unhealthy NGPA/CAPA to the point where the area no longer functions properly for the purpose of pollutant reduction or habitat protection. Although not all are a violation of Snohomish County code, the following are indicators that your NGPA/CAPA may be unhealthy:
If your NGPA/CAPA has any of the “symptoms” listed in the previous section, there are many options for improving its health. There are community wide actions that can be taken to improve your NGPA/CAPA health and function. These include:
Additionally, here are easy actions you can take on your property to further protect the critical areas within your NGPA/CAPA: